How well do you understand Public Storm Warning Signals? Find out what they mean so you can be better prepared for the next tropical cyclone.
When a strong tropical cyclone or “bagyo” enters the PAR (Philippine Area of Responsibility) and heads toward our landmass, PAGASA issues a PSWS or a Public Storm Warning Signal, classified into numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4.
Filipinos often hear of these warnings but many of us still don’t know how these work. Typhoon Glenda, with international name Ramassun, was the latest tropical cyclone that hit Philippine landmass last July. Some areas in Luzon, including MIMAROPA and the Bicol Region were put under signal #3. Some people were wondering, “Signal number 3 na raw pero bakit ang init- init pa rin sa amin?”
PSWS serve as warnings, and should not be taken as an indication of the present situation. Because preparedness is the key to any disaster, PAGASA provides these storm warning signals ahead of time. Take for example, PSWS #3—in this case, the storm is expected to arrive within 18 hours after the PSWS has been raised.
Another misconception about PSWS is that it’s about all about the rain—its intensity and amount. Remember that PAGASA measures tropical cyclones based on the strength of the winds.
Refer to the list below to find out how PSWS are classified according to windspeeds and the time frames they’re expected to arrive:
PSWS #4 : Winds of more than 185 kph is expected in at least 12 hours.
PSWS #3 : Winds of 101-185 kph is expected in at least 18 hours.
PSWS #2 : Winds of 61-100 kph is expected in at least 24 hours.
PSWS #1 : Winds of 30-60 kph is expected in at least 36 hours.
According to PAGASA, tropical cyclones are constantly in motion, thus, PSWS may be updraded or downgraded as they inch closer to specific locations. Storm signals are raised in areas based on the intensity, size of circulation, and the forecasted direction or movement of the tropical storm or typhoon.
Potential impacts of the winds:
- Twigs and branches of trees may be broken .
- Some banana trees may tilt or land flat on the ground.
- Rice in flowering stage may suffer significant damage.
- Some nipa and cogon houses may be partially unroofed.
- Sea travel of small seacraft and fishing boats is risky.
- Moderate damage to agriculture
- Rice and corn adversely affected
- Few large trees uprooted
- Large number of nipa and cogon houses partially or totally unroofed
- Some old galvanized iron roofing may roll off.
- Travel by all types of sea vessels and aircrafts is risky.
- Heavy damage to agriculture
- Some large trees uprooted
- Majority of nipa and cogon houses unroofed or destroyed
- Moderate to heavy disruption of electrical power and communication services
- Danger in land, air or sea travel
- Coconut plantation may suffer extensive damage.
- Many large trees may be uprooted.
- Rice and corn plantations may suffer severe losses.
- Most residential and institutional buildings of mixed construction may be severely damaged.
- Electrical power distribution and communication services may be severely disrupted.
PSWS describe what is going to happen, not what is already happening. Residents should use this opportunity to prepare for the coming storm and continuously monitor weather updates.